Secret from 016: Bi-State Economic Development

Michael Collins, President and CEO of Port KC, manages economic development efforts in Kansas City, which has two states within the city limits. Conducting bi-state economic development can be tricky, so Michael shares some of the trials and triumphs that they have experienced.


Port KC is an area that is created by state law in the State of Missouri, so we are actually constrained with the exception of river-bourne commerce. Our development infrastructure efforts are really constrained by the state line, but, we also work with many organizations that erase that state line. Why that’s very important in a locality like Kansas City, Missouri is because, if many know their geography about Kansas and Missouri, we actually share a city. One of it’s Kansas City, Missouri, the other is Kansas City, Kansas; and you look at the totalitary of the area, which is over two million people in the greater Kansas City metro area.

Our workforce moves all across this greater Kansas City area. One of the things that we have that we’ve been working to address is, I hate to use the term border war, but we’ve had a border war for many years now. And, we’ve been working to trying to remove that – understanding who does what best and where we should not compete for each other, because it came to us stealing each other’s companies. That’s not true economic development, that’s just pirating and there’s no growth, there’s no job growth, there’s no real wage growth.

If you look at those issues and how do you make an area much more opportunistic of going after competition globally and regionally and nationally, that’s where we are really looking forward to playing, both on the Kansas side and the Missouri side. We have a lot of organizations that work with us that actually have the ability to work on both sides of the state line, which is very beneficial to us, because it puts us all at the same table, at the same time. If we’re going to compete, let’s compete with companies and entities that are outside of the greater Kansas City metro area, not those that are inside.

We’re dependent on each other from an economic standpoint. From a social standpoint, we’re interwoven. Most people do not see the state line as an issue, until it comes to the actual jobs. So, we’re working very diligently with a lot of organizations to help us kind of remove that indivisible barrier of economic development opportunities so that what Kansas does best, they should go after; and what Missouri and Kansas City do best, we should go after from a regional, national, and global perspective; and not necessarily a municipal pirating perspective.

Use the player below to listen to our full interview with Michael.

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